Artistic war of words

South East Arts general manager Andrew Gray and new board member Bruce Carmichael outside the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre.

South East Arts general manager Andrew Gray and new board member Bruce Carmichael outside the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre.

Following the successful launch of Merimbula’s Twyford Theatre by the Sea proposal on April 8, at Twyford Hall, South East Arts general manager Andrew Gray said that efforts should be focused on building an arts precinct in Bega.

“Right now there is a venue in the Bega Valley, although it is in Bega not Merimbula, that could be used to help build audiences,” Mr Gray said in a reference to the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre (BVCCC).

The Twyford Hall launch received a kick start with the ringing endorsement of TV and stage star Marta Dusseldorp and her husband, actor and director Ben Winspear both of whom spoke of the importance of regional theatre.

The proposal also met with approval from the hall’s users and the fund has received $40,000 from Spectrum Theatre Group and another $30,000 which was pledged by individuals and groups wanting to pay $1000 for a personally named seat in the proposed theatre.

The comments by Mr Gray in reference the BVCCC as a performance space have been regarded as ironic given the building’s acoustics. The council chamber is renowned for being difficult to hear speakers and prior to building, the Bega District News has been told advice was given to council regarding what would make the “performance space” work best but this was not acted upon.

Mr Gray said he recognised the BVCCC was not a performing arts centre, but he saw the potential for it to be used in contemporary theatre productions.

“I think this space [the BVCCC] has so much potential for working as a performing arts centre and it’s already here,” he said. 

Mr Gray and new board member Bruce Carmichael, who is also the director of Canberra Theatre Centre said it was important to build up an arts precinct around a venue, with cafes and restaurants, shop and make it a space where multiple types of arts could be exhibited.

Mr Gray did not think an upgraded Twyford Hall was a bad idea, but thought the community could use the energy and enthusiasm to see what could be done to use existing spaces.

“It would be great if that energy and passion is not wasted on an idea maybe not as well developed as it could be. But that passion could be put in place right now [at the BVCCC],” he said.

It would be great if that energy and passion is not wasted on an idea maybe not as well developed as it could be. - Andrew Gray South East Arts

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